Expansion of Permitted Development Rights – some important changes to note

Following the controversial consultation exercise that ran in early 2021 the Permitted Development right authorising conversions from uses falling within Use Class E to residential uses has now been added to the statute books.

What is coming into force is significantly pared down from what was proposed in the consultation exercise and David Mathias sets out some of the headlines below.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 (Order) comes into force on Wednesday 21 April 2021, creating a new class of permitted development right (Class MA) into the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO) authorising changes of use from Use Class E commercial uses to Use Class C3 residential.

The changes within the Order have effect from 1st August 2021 and will authorise a change in the permitted use of a property or land from a use falling with Use Class E to Use Class C3 residential use where the property has:

  • been in Class E use for 2 years (including time in former uses ie A1, A2, A3, B1, D1 or D2 now within that Class); and
  • has been vacant for at least 3 continuous months.

Class MA will apply in conservation areas but not in other Article 2(3) land such as National Parks and in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Exercise of the right is subject to prior approval by the local planning authority. Detail must be submitted relating to flooding, transport, contamination, noise amenity, natural light, fire safety and agent of change issues.

The area that can be converted is capped, with a maximum size limit of 1,500 square metres of floor space capable of conversion using the right. Schemes coming forward via Class MA will attract a fee of £100 per dwelling house.

The prior approval application that must be submitted to the local planning authority authorising the change of use should include detail on the impacts related to flooding, transport, contamination, noise amenity, natural light, fire safety and agent of change issues.

So far so good, however it should be noted that the changes proposed within the statutory instrument will also have effect on some existed permitted development rights for conversion to residential, particularly conversions from office to residential that would have used the permitted development right within Class O of the GPDO.

Since 2013 Class O has authorised office to residential conversions with no maximum square footage limit meaning that the amount of space that could be converted to residential use was unlimited (subject to satisfaction of the other conditions attached to the permitted development right). The Order will have the effect of replacing Class O with Class MA. As such, from 1 August 2021 there will be upper limited of 1500 square metres applied across all office to residential conversions. There are transitional provisions within the Order however to satisfy these an applicant will need to have its prior approval application submitted to the relevant local planning authority by no later than 31 July 2021.  The conversion associated with the application must be completed within 3 years of that date or the permitted development right will be lost.

Accordingly, if you have a large office interest that you are intending to convert using permitted development rights you must move quickly to submit your application to the relevant local planning authority before the end of July of this year.

In this regard please do contact Shoosmiths Planning Team who shall be able to assist with any issues that arise with this process and can provide you with further guidance in relation to the Order and changes that it will bring into effect.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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